The Sting

Your boss is quite a card player, Mr. Kelly; how does he do it?” — Doyle Lonnegan, “He cheats.” — Johnny Hooker

Ah, heist movies. As “rogues” ourselves, we have the authority to claim that there’s not too many things better than a twisting and turning story about con men separating a mob boss from his precious thousands in cash.

After their stellar performance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford are back in action. Inspired by a true story, The Sting is a movie about two professional grifters who use an outdated and elaborate scam called “the wire” to gain the trust of Doyle Lonnegan, a mob boss who’s seeking revenge on Johnny Hooker for conning him out of $11,000 in cash. Hooker teams up with Henry Gondorff, and they assemble a team pretending to be in the horse betting business. Hooker, who goes by “Kelly”, convinces Lonnegan (played by Robert Shaw) to get in on the action, putting $500,000 on the line.

Do they get away with it? Watch and see.

The screenwriter, David S. Ward, used several sources in order to create a clever, realistic story set during the Great Depression. He lets his audience in on some of the process of creating the big con, but masterfully keeps the best parts hidden away until the best moment to reveal them.

Predominantly using dark tones, the movie recreates the shady atmosphere of Chicago in the 1930s, drawing inspiration from the movies of that era. The director, George Roy Hill, goes so far in seeking to make the movie as authentic as possible that he tries to use as few extras as possible on his sets. There are gorgeous title cards inserted between sections of the film, and stunning period-appropriate costumes and vehicles were used during the filming. One thing the movie received some criticism for was the anachronistic use of ragtime, notably the compositions of Scott Joplin. On the other hand, the success of the movie played a role in reviving ragtime in the 1970, which is something we won’t complain about.

The acting is just phenomenal. The chemistry between Newman and Redford makes the viewer instantly sympathize with them. We want to see them succeed, and we eagerly follow them as they plan and plot and cheat their way forward. They keep us on the edges of our seats, anxious to see how they pull it off. Paul Newman in particular shines as a perfect example of a confidence man, bursting with magnetic charisma, which is something not previously seen in such a way on screen. The supporting cast is also quite good, affirming the quality of this Academy Award winning movie.

It won seven out of ten Oscar nominations. We aren’t joking when we say it’s a rarely fantastic movie. At the same time our main characters pull the mob boss into their trap, we as viewers are also dragged into it. The story feeds us with mystery and leaves us satisfied once all the puzzle pieces fall into place to reveal the grand scheme.

And it’s such a joy to watch it unfold.

Not only do we recommend watching it, we ask you to watch it multiple times. The story is so rich and detailed that you’ll always find something new in it, something appealing to return to. Unfortunately, its sequel flopped and the planned prequel never saw the light of day, but The Sting is perfect as an unforgettable standalone movie, and it’s still so engaging almost half a century after its release.

IMDb 4.1 /5
4.1 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4.6 /5
4.6 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4.6 /5
4.6 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

4.43out of 5

Good
4.43 out of 5
Category Comedy

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